par·a·mour noun— noun: paramour; plural noun: paramours
- a lover, especially the illicit partner of a married person.
The best thing about Cirque du Soleil’s latest attempt to gain a foothold in New York are its circus acts, particularly the work of Associate Creative Director/Acrobatic Designer & Choreographer, Shana Carroll,Flying Machine Design & Choreography by Verity Studios, and Acrobatic Performance Designer, Boris Verkhovsky. This is ironic as Cirque du Soleil Theatrical intended to breach Broadway with a book musical format.
The show-stopper is a three person aerial ballet with Martin Charrat, Myriam Deraiche and Samuel William Charlton which poeticizes the musical’s love triangle. This exquisite trio is breathtakingly graceful and highly skilled. Choreography is simply beautiful. The audience cheers. A second appealing demonstration of in flight acrobatics by identical twins Andrew and Kevin Atherton swings the duo out over its audience with style and synchronicity. While the first act is watched by the show’s protagonists keeping our focus, the second competes with a stage set for Hellzipoppin’s idea of Cleopatra and all sorts of things going on.
Acrobats; Martin Charrat, Myriam Deraiche and Samuel William Charlton
The directorial credo of Paramour appears to be more is better. Scenes are overstuffed with competition for our attention, perhaps in order to distract from a thin book and bland/ utilitarian songs, few of whose lyrics are intelligible. (Sound Design-John Shivers) Broadway artists Jeremy Kushnier – the Director AJ, Ruby Lewis – our heroine Indigo, and Ryan Vona -her boyfriend Joey are, more often than not, surrounded by acrobats, jugglers, dancers, balancing, teeterboard, contortion and aerial acts…not to mention sometimes excessive video, as they ostensibly move the plot along. So much for emotional investment.
Among its musical theater performers, the attractive Ruby Lewis shines like a diamond. Ms. Lewis has a terrific Andrew-Lloyd-Webber-here-I-am voice, dances splendidly (replete with cartwheel and split), and manages to make her character sympathetic with little theatrical ammunition. Brava. One hopes she gets lots of work from this.
Ruby Lewis, Jerey Kushnier, Ryan Vona
So here’s the plot. It’s the golden age of Hollywood-a visual mashup. Megalomaniac Director AJ fires his current leading lady for being less than fully committed i.e. she’s romantically involved. His stalwart assistant hauls him off to a nightclub where he sees Midwest innocent Indigo (not exactly a corn-belt name choice) sing. Eureka! It’s his hopefully malleable new star. AJ hires the girl and her clean cut composer boyfriend Joey (to write the film’s love song) on the spot. Voila the love triangle.
Reed Kelly, Sarah Meahl and The Company
Indigo is, of course, good at everything, which is convenient as AJ has her do everything from an ersatz Seven Brides for Seven Brothers hoedown number to playing Cleopatra. The director –big surprise- grows increasingly possessive. His leading lady is dazzled but true to Joey who’s having trouble writing the required song without his muse and, it turns out, his lyricist. She, in turn, says she can’t author words about what she hasn’t experienced: love. What?! Besides, she’s pretty busy working during the day and being squired around at night. When AJ demands she choose between career and Joey, she succumbs, agreeing to marry him…but then changes her mind. The lovers flee provoking a chase on rooftops which turn out to be made of trampolines. (One of several fine Sets by Jean Rabasse).
Fletcher Blair Sanchez
Projections designed by Olivier Simola and Christophe Waksmann are sometimes wonderful and at others trite psychedelics – a giant eye-really?! And what’s going on with the nightmare segment?! For anyone particularly interested in the medium, however, the show is a must on the basis of both imagination and technical expertise.
Philippe Guillotel’s Costumes also range widely from the appealing- colorful, patterned zoot suits and movie scene regalia to the mundane-many of Indigo’s costumes are ordinary and unflattering. It would also help if an actual period were selected.
All in all a spectacle the sum of whose parts are not larger than the whole.
Photos by Richard Termine
Opening: Andrew and Kevin Atherton and the Company
Cirque du Soleil Theatrical presents
Creative Guide/Director- Jean-Francois Bouchard
Associate Creative Director/Scene Director & Story- West Hyler
Composers: Bob & Bill, Guy Dubuc, Marc Lessard
Lyricist/Co-Composer- Andreas Carlsson
213 West 42nd Street